Gold ‘scam’ draws another warning

A man who had his insurance licence suspended over one year ago in an “obvious scam” is back operating in the Greater Trail region.

Once bitten twice shy.

A man who had his insurance licence suspended over one year ago in an “obvious scam” is back operating in the Greater Trail region.

James Robert Milligen, 51, is no longer licensed with the Insurance Council of British Columbia (ICBC)—currently serving a five-year suspension—but he has continued to promote his scam to the public, the ICBC reported Monday.

The group placed an advertisement in West Kootenay and Okanagan newspapers warning people that Milligen was back at it again, after an ICBC report of the Hearing Committee revoked his licence 18 months ago.

Milligen is still recommending his clients invest money to fund the shipment of gold from Ghana to Canada, the same scam he tried to pull off when an ICBC hearing found him guilty in October, 2011.

ICBC deputy executive director, Agnes Healey, said the council has had some inquiries from people in the community about Milligen and they have been advised he was again working in the area.

“The reason we are republishing (the warning) is it has come to our attention that he may still be operating for this scam,” she said. “Because the last ad we ran was some time ago, we thought it was appropriate that we put that ad out again.”

Healey could not say exactly how many people called and who was affected by his original scam due to the confidential nature of the case.

Milligen embarked on his scam after eight years in the industry as a life insurance agent. In pitching the Ghana “opportunity,” a hearing committee investigation found Milligen did not even conduct a cursory search of the Internet to verify it.

Instead, it was found he took deliberate and improper steps to entice others to invest with him and “specifically preyed upon individuals who trusted him,” the hearing committee report read.

The investment was not related to the sale of insurance products, and Milligen relied on his prior relationship with his clients to facilitate the potential investment.

He was not licenced to sell mutual funds or securities.

“In essence, leveraging his position as a licenced insurance agent to persuade clients to engage in more financial business with him,” the report noted.

While the investments were not a significant monetary amount, Milligen placed his clients at risk and was found to be in a conflict of interest as he stood to gain directly from his clients’ financial investment.

The council also found Milligen’s refusal to pay back the money and to continue to approach clients regarding the investment—after being advised by council the situation was improper—spoke to his lack of trustworthiness, suitability and good faith.

“But it is clearly a scam,” Healey said about the Ghana investment. “Council has known it was a scam and on that basis the decision (was made).”

Milligen’s life and accident and sickness insurance agent’s licence has been cancelled for five years, effective from April 12, 2011. He was ordered to repay the money to his clients—around $30,000—as well as pay the costs of the investigation ($1,075).

Healey encouraged people to go to the RCMP and make a complaint.

Anyone with questions can view the council’s decision at www.insurancecouncilofbc.com, or contact the council at 1-877-688-0321.

Nigerian scam

Another scam has been circulating the Greater Trail region, this time from Nigeria.

The Trail and Greater  District Detachment received a complaint from a Montrose resident about a recent Nigerian letter scam on Sept. 18.

The Montrose resident and his father received the letters from fake law offices stating large sums of money was left to them by long lost relatives.

They realized the letter was a scam and immediately contacted the RCMP.

“(We) are warning the public not to respond to these letters and to contact (us) if they have any questions after receiving such a letter,” said RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Detachment in a press release.